Pablo Sandoval Headed for the Disabled List

Led by Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval, the San Francisco Giants offense has actually been decent this year. Their 95 wRC+ ranks them 8th in the National League, thanks in large part to the contributions of Buster Posey (.342/.400/.575) and Pablo Sandoval (.316/.375/.537). Melky Cabrera has been good, and the team has gotten production from the Brandon Belt/Brett Pill platoon when they’ve played, but the offense has been driven by the consistent thumping of Posey and Sandoval.

Their depth is about to be tested, however, as Hank Schulman is reporting that Sandoval has a broken hamate bone in his wrist. He had this same issue last year – only this year, it’s the other hand – and he missed 41 games over six weeks while recovering from the injury.

The effects of the injury seemed to linger even after he returned, however. Here are his monthly wRC+ splits from last year:

April: 147
May: DL
June: 77
July: 149
August: 124
September: 209

Hand and wrist injuries are notorious power sappers, and Sandoval had just five extra base hits in 70 plate appearances in June. His power returned in the second half, and he was one of the best hitters in baseball down the stretch, so this shouldn’t derail him for the whole season, but if last year is any indicator of how the injury will affect him, this will likely be a problem for him until the All-Star break.

So, for the next couple of months, the Giants are going to have to get their offense elsewhere. Conor Gillaspie is expected to be recalled to take his place on the roster, but the Giants might need to look outside the organization for additional help. Perhaps the logical place to look would be for a player who can play both third base and shortstop, giving them the flexibility of replacing Brandon Crawford with the new acquisition once Sandoval returns. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ned Colletti was already on the phone offering Juan Uribe back to the Giants…



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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


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Nate
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Nate
4 years 3 months ago

NOOO!! I *just* traded for Panda… Um, I hope his recovery goes well. Never like to see injuries like that happen.

jp_on_rye
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jp_on_rye
4 years 3 months ago

This is just a drag. Pablo was lucky last year in that his power came back fairly quickly after the injury, but who knows if that will be the case this time. I’ve read that it usually saps power for a year after surgery.

Tomrigid
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Tomrigid
4 years 3 months ago

If he’d lose some belly he’d put much less stress on his wrists. My solution is to never play baseball, but he’ll probably do better with a diet.

Nick
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Nick
4 years 3 months ago

Wrists are just about the last place I’d think to look for a weight-related injury.

Mario Mendoza of commenters
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Mario Mendoza of commenters
4 years 3 months ago

Unless he’s doing pushups. Or missionary style.

Keith
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Keith
4 years 3 months ago

I blame lingering effects from that giant slice of birthday cake someone left behind 2nd base. Pablo braced his fall pretty hard.

David
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David
4 years 3 months ago

I’m sure it’s a horrible idea for many many reasons, but Aubrey Huff did play third base once upon a time. If he could manage it even a little bit then it has the benefit of keeping Belt’s bat in the lineup on a more full time basis as well.

David
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David
4 years 3 months ago

Last played there in 2008 as an Oriole, when he played in 33 games at the hot corner. FWIW.

Jack
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Jack
4 years 3 months ago

Aubrey Huff also has ‘experience’ at 2nd base. Considering his history at 5 different positions, maybe the Giants should make him their utility player.

quincy0191
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quincy0191
4 years 3 months ago

Gillaspie’s better for every possible reason. Huff’s still on the DL and he may not come off immediately after being eligible, he’s not a great defensive 1B so putting him at 3B is threatens mind-numbing defense, and he’s not hitting well so there’s a good argument to be made which suggests he shouldn’t be in the starting lineup at all. I like him better as a bat off the bench; at this point, Brett Pill or Emmanuel Burriss are better options if for some reason Gillaspie isn’t given the starting job outright, which IMO he should be as he’s hit well in Fresno for a year-plus now and is still just 24.

David
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David
4 years 3 months ago

Meh. I’m not worried about the REAL reasons. I’m just trying to think like Bruce Bochy!

Baltar
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Baltar
4 years 3 months ago

I like Huff better as a bat (glove and mouth) off the team.

Mario Mendoza of commenters
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Mario Mendoza of commenters
4 years 3 months ago

@David, then why would ANY move be made to give Belt more playing time?

Jim Lahey
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Jim Lahey
4 years 3 months ago

My poor fantasy teams…. son of a! Youk yesterday, Sandoval today, probably Hanley tomorrow.

SF 55 for life
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SF 55 for life
4 years 3 months ago

So there are arguably 10 teams that will not be challenging for a playoff spot this season: Cubs, Pirates, A’s, Mariners, Twins, Indians (iffy I know), Mets, Royals, and Astros.

Here’s a list of players that can play third base:
Cubs: Ian Stewart, Jeff Baker, Blake DeWitt
Pirates: Casey McGehee, Pedro Alvarez
A’s- Brandon Inge, Eric Sogard, Adam Rosales, Luke Hughes
Mariners- Kyle Seager, Chone Figgins, Brendan Ryan(?)
Twins- Danny Valencia, Jamey Carroll, Sean Burroughs
Indians- Jack Hannahan, Lonnie Chisenhall
Orioles- Mark Reynolds, Wilson Betemit, Chris Davis, Ryan Flaherty
Mets- David Wright, Daniel Murphy, Justin Turner
Royals- Mike Moustakas, Alex Gordon,
Astros- Jed Lowrie, Chris Johnson, Matt Downs

A handful of those guys either are untouchable or don’t fit the Giants needs as a temporary stopgap- Wright, Chisenhall, Moustakas, Gordon, Lowrie.

Narrowing it down even further to players that can play at least one middle infield position:
Jeff Baker, Ian Stewart(?), Blake DeWitt,
Eric Sogard, Adam Rosales, Luke Hughes
Kyle Seager, Chone Figgins, Brendan Ryan(?)
Jamey Carroll
Ryan Flaherty
Daniel Murphy, Justin Turner
Matt Downs

Not exactly the most exciting group of players. Of those listed I would consider Seager, Figgins, Carroll, and Murphy

Fiveloko
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Fiveloko
4 years 3 months ago

Nice analysis, 420.

Murphy might be tougher to pry since, you know, we can’t trade Zack Wheeler to the Mets *again*, but he’s the guy I’d want.

mike
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mike
4 years 3 months ago

Good analysis. Just one question: who would we be able to trade to get any of those guys? We don’t have depth anywhere accept first base and even there it is minimal at best. In addition a guy like Seager should be taken off the list because of how young he is, the mariners will ask for too much. Also, chone figgins is a death sentence of a contract and not one we should take on (though recent history shows he could be the most likely guy for Sabean to target). Turner and Carroll are probably the most viable options you give, but one guy who you missed that could be of the most help would be Clint Barmes. He is a career back-up who has gotten a chance to be the starting SS in Houston and Pittsburgh this season and last, respectively. He has not done well in those situations, but as a platoon/back-up in colorado he put up very good numbers (even with the splits he still hit pretty well on the road). He is a much better hitter than those four you nailed down and he has the ability to play every IF position. He is not the greatest fielder in the world but the guys that he would be supposedly backing up for most of the season (Crawford and Sanchez) are more glove-first guys anyways. As such he will carry tremendous value coming in as a back up to all the IF positions as well as a spot starter and pinch hitter. Also, given his age and the fact he has not proven that he can be a starter, he is not going to be someone who will cost a boatload to trade for

SF 55 for life
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SF 55 for life
4 years 3 months ago

I didn’t include shortstops on this list unless they could also play third. Barmes has only played a handful of games there.

mikesavino85
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4 years 3 months ago

Padres have a pretty good third baseman.

SF 55 for life
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SF 55 for life
4 years 3 months ago

I excluded trades within the division.

MikeS
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MikeS
4 years 3 months ago

I don’t know if a wrist injury is due to his weight, but expecting that body to stay off the DL is wishful thinking.

ChuckR
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ChuckR
4 years 3 months ago

Aren’t hamate bones useless and isn’t removing it one of the ways it is ‘treated’? I’m thinking that one of these days someone will have it removed when its healthy before they break it and miss 6-8 weeks. Actually, I might know some little league dads who are already thinking about doing that with their 9 year olds.

Mario Mendoza of commenters
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Mario Mendoza of commenters
4 years 3 months ago

Do me a favor, punch those dads square in the nuts.

NEPP
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NEPP
4 years 3 months ago

That’s just crazy. I mean, if you want your kid to succeed it would make far more sense to break his right arm and force him to start throwing LH.

That’s good parenting there.

SF 55 for life
Member
SF 55 for life
4 years 3 months ago

Yeah once a player breaks their hamate bone it is surgically removed for good. Crazy that Sandoval broke both his hamte bones one year after the other.

Shaun Catron
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Shaun Catron
4 years 3 months ago

Another hamate injury.

Maybe Pablo ate the ham

walt526
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walt526
4 years 3 months ago

The only good news is that it’s in his non-throwing hand this time.

Here’s my crazy thought: would it make sense to see if Posey can handle third in the next few weeks? He’s certainly got the arm, the footwork, and the natural athleticism for it. My thinking is that it might be better to minimize his innings behind the plate and that Sanchez would be a better guy to give at bats to than Gillaspie. He definitely has better physical tools than other guys on the roster that they could potentially play out of position at third (Pill or Huff when he gets back). And the fact of the matter is, Gillaspie is not a great defensively. Not starting Posey at 1B would also free up more playing time for Belt while giving Posey a break from catching. Posey did play shortstop in college before they moved him to catcher, so it’s not unreasonable that he couldn’t pick it up relatively quickly (although clearly there will be a learning curve).

Obviously, Posey is a much better defensive catcher than Sanchez. My thinking is that it might be less wear and tear on Posey if he logs fewer innings behind the plate and the Giants really should see what Sanchez can do with more playing time, if for no other reason than to increase his trade value (since they also have Tommy Joseph in the minors, who is also a mediocre defensive catcher who should hit). I think that the marginal difference in offense between Sanchez and Gillaspie (plus less wear and tear on Posey, potentially) is probably greater the defensive cost of having Posey learning a new position while Sanchez is behind the plate.

Nick
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Nick
4 years 3 months ago

Actually Gillaspie is almost certainly a much better hitter than Hector Sanchez.

Sanchez 2011 A+ 228 PA, .369 wOBA
Sanchez 2011 AAA 168 PA, .290 wOBA
Sanchez 2011 MLB 34 PA, .292 wOBA
Sanchez 2012 MLB 43 PA, .250 wOBA

Gillaspie 2011 AAA 503 PA, .371 wOBA
Gillaspie 2011 MLB 21 PA, .334 wOBA
Gillaspie 2012 AAA 100 PA, .405 wOBA

walt526
Member
walt526
4 years 3 months ago

Obviously the 2012 sample sizes are way to small for both players to draw any conclusions. Better data in support of your point would be something like ZIPS 2012: Gillaspie 90 OPS+, Sanchez 77 OPS+. Although that’s a much more modest difference than your comparison of 2012 wOBA implies.

In terms of 2011, there are other highly relevant contextual factors to consider that a simple comparison of wOBA doesn’t capture:
– Sanchez was a 21 year-old catcher last year. He hit well in the age appropriate league and then struggled at the higher levels. He was rushed through the minors only because Whiteside/Stewart were so terrible.
– Gillaspie was a 23 year-old “3b” last year. He also was rushed to the big leagues (for reasons that I still don’t understand), but spent a full season at A+, followed by a full season at AA, followed by a full season at AAA, and was set to do another full season at AAA if not for the Sandoval injury. Even when Sandoval missed 6 weeks last year, he was only called up for about a week in June (only one start). He has languished in the minors because he’s a contact hitter with no power and subpar defensive skills.

Hurtlockertwo
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Hurtlockertwo
4 years 3 months ago

This is depressing, just when the Giants were starting to hit.

Tito Fuentes
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Tito Fuentes
4 years 3 months ago

Over last 10 games, Giants have scored an average of 2.8 runs a game. Not actually ripping the cover off the ball……

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